Simple Spicy Taco Salad

Saturday I ran a 5k with some of my best friends…

5k=3.something miles

I do it all the time. Ok, hold-up, I used to do it all the time. Well this time, it felt like I completed a half marathon. I blame it on the hills I’m not used to running.

The reality is, I need to get into better running shape… and maybe eat some more salads and nothing beats a simple, spicy, taco salad.

I feel more fit already. Amazing what some leafy greens can do! I’m doing squats as I type!!! (slight hyperbole, I can barely chew gum and walk)

One reason salads are so great, you can be creative. With a taco salad, I usually do a spicy creamy dressing (recipe below), avocado, tomato, olives, and beans (not shown since 5 doesn’t make a square).

I also really like to put shredded cheese on top but it turns into a “You want some salad with that cheese?” situation. I try not to keep it readily available at my apartment… I think I’m addicted.

As always, anything Mexican inspired is best served with chips… AND salsa. The blue corn chips above are the baked blue tortilla  chips from Trader Joe’s. Delicious and healthy.

Arriba!

Here’s how to do it:

Taco Salad

Avocado, diced

Tomato, diced

Black Olives, sliced

Romaine Lettuce, 2 Hearts will feed 4-5 people

Salsa

For the Beans:

1 Can Black Beans (rinsed and drained)

1 tbsp. Taco Seasoning

Heat the beans in a pan with the taco seasoning on medium-low. Add a few teaspoons of water to thin out after putting in the taco seasoning. Heat for 5 minutes or so, until hot.

For the Dressing:

Adapted from Cooking Light

2/3 C. Sour Cream

1/4 tsp. Cayenne

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1 tsp. Cumin

4 tsp. fresh Lime Juice

1 small can Diced Green Chiles (The original recipe had a chipotle chili in Adobo sauce but I didn’t have any. I love green chiles and it ended up being a great substitute.)

1/4 tsp. Salt

Combine all ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour so the spices and flavors meld. It is a thicker dressing but if you think it is a little too thick, you can thin it out with just a little bit of milk or water.

To serve, I think making individual plates is the best way to go. Everyone can get as much or as little of everything as they want.

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Butternut Squash Enchiladas

It was a very productive Sunday. I checked quite a few things off of my to do list.

Take out the garbage – Check.

Work-out – Check.

Shave legs – A much needed Check.

Clean and change the cat litter – A much despised Check. Ps. WHY on earth is it that every time I change Ollie’s litter, he just has to use it literally the next minute?!?! We can’t just have a clean litter box for even an hour, please?!?

Phone calls to the family – Check.

My conversation with my Nanny was a real pick-me-up. It went a little something like this…

Ally: “What have you been up to lately?”

Nanny: “Oh I have been pretty busy as of late, I’ve got a new trainer at the gym (she’s 87, and she’ll probably kill me for revealing her age), I’m going to learn how to play Mahjong with a few friends this week, I’ve got a couple doctor’s appointments coming up, and my Bible study luncheon this Tuesday.”

Ally: “Geez, Nanny, it sounds like you’re going to be pretty busy for the next few weeks.”

Nanny: “But you know me, Ally… I thrive on this stuff.”

I laughed….When I’m 87, I hope I still have something I thrive on…. or even when I’m 25…. she is quite the inspiration.

Right now, I thrive on cooking and sharing with all of you… like these butternut squash enchiladas.

My parents came in town for a visit a few weeks ago, right after my mom’s birthday. I decided to take them out to dinner since I didn’t have enough time or forethought to get her a real gift. We went to this great modern Mexican restaurant Cactus. I ordered the butternut squash enchiladas and man oh man were they good. So good that I decided to try and replicate the thing at home and if I do say so myself… it worked out pretty well…. except for the enchilada part…

I made one mini-batch that was kind of in enchilada form (see above) but when I went to my larger dish, all the tortillas were breaking apart, along with my dreams of perfection…. so  my enchiladas turned into more of an enchilada lasagna….

Start with caramelizing a sweet onion in some oil (vegetable or olive) with all the spices. I went with canola because it has a higher smoking point or at least I think I heard that on some Food Network show.

Add the squash and get your cheese together and you’re now ready to assemble.

Oh yeah… did I mention there are two kinds of cheese in here. Goat cheese and Jack cheese and it all gets so melty and delicious.

You’ve got to try this.

Here’s how to do it.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 c. Butternut Squash, Cubed

5 oz. Goat Cheese

1/3 c. Sour Cream

12 oz. Jack Cheese, Grated

15 oz. bag of chopped frozen Spinach

1 Sweet Onion

2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 c. Oil + more for drizzle on the Squash

8-10 Corn Tortillas

2 c. Prepared Enchilada Sauce (I used Rosarita)

A little of each of the following spices: Cumin, Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt, and Pepper. (I forgot to measure… oops.)

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees to roast the squash. Drizzle olive oil over the squash, add salt, pepper, a few sprinkles of cumin, a small pinch of cayenne and chili powder. Cook the squash until just softened, about 15 minutes.

While the oven heats up add the oil to a saute pan to heat up. Cut the onion in half once and slice. Mince garlic. Add onion to hot oil and cook until translucent. Then add garlic and some more of the same spices from above. You’ll want the onion to have a nice color after adding the spices. But don’t get too heavy handed.

As that softens away, grate the jack cheese. Also combine the goat cheese and sour cream. It will still be a little chunky but an easier consistency to spread.

Thaw the frozen spinach and then press out all of the liquid. There will be a lot of this and will stop everything from getting too runny.

Add the thawed spinach and cooked squash to the onions and garlic.

Assembly:

Put a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Spread the goat cheese mixture on to the corn tortillas and lay tortillas, cheese side up, to cover the bottom of the dish. Add a little bit more sauce on top of the tortillas. Then add the spinach, onion, and squash mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and top with a little extra drizzle of the enchilada sauce. Cover with another layer of corn tortillas with the goat cheese spread, a little more sauce, veggies, cheese, etc. Top with a final layer of tortillas with the goat cheese spread face down, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

I got about 2 layers out of it and my dish was about a 8X11 oval. If you want to make a larger batch or a few more layers, it would be real easy to just prep more of everything.

Bake in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes. It really just needs to be heated through.